Archive for January, 2011

Net neutrality and TANSTAAFL

First up is the complaint about having to pay for service: 200GB to 25GB: Canada gets first, bitter dose of metered Internet. “Metered Internet usage (also called “Usage-Based Billing”) is coming to Canada, and it’s going to cost Internet users.” — wow! this is just like electrical power and other utilities!

While an advance guard of Canadians are expressing creative outrage at the prospect of having to pay inflated prices for Internet use charged by the gigabyte, the consequences probably haven’t set in for most consumers. Now, however, independent Canadian ISPs are publishing their revised data plans, and they aren’t pretty.

Note the “inflated prices”! Of course, the complainers denigrate the supposed reasons for the change in pricing.

“The ostensible, theoretical reason behind UBB is to conserve capacity, but that issue is very questionable,” noted the ISP’s CEO Rocky Gaudrault on TekSavvy’s news page. “One certain result though, is that Bell will make much more profit on its Internet service, and discourage Canadians from watching TV and movies on the internet instead of CTV, which Bell now owns.”

Another view of this is in the report Cash, please! A Nordic change of heart on net neutrality.

“The regime for distribution of data content is free for the sender, and this must be changed,” said Telenor’s CTO. “For the content providers it means that they will have to pay to make content available online, regardless of how much they send.”

Sites that pay up will get quality of service guarantees; everyone else goes into the “best effort” pool.

The real issue behind all of this is a fear:

the common concern with most of these pay-to-play arrangements: they tend to favor an ISP’s own services. “When Telenor both controls your Internet connection as well as the music streaming service Wimp, it’s clear that we need predictable guidelines that grant everyone, also competitors such as Spotify, the same access and quality,” said Nortvedt.

The philosophy and desire is a bit different:

“the quality of the content must not be affected by the Internet service provider’s agreements, preferences, financial interests or other concerns.” As for investing in new capacity, it “must be met with further development of capacity, not by traffic management.”

What is happening is that video content is starting to take hold as a predominant source of I’net traffic. That creates two problems. One of those is that video needs a much larger volume than text or voice or static media. The other is that it needs steady high volume flow at close to full pipe rates. That is why video, such as YouTube or Netflix present a problem for traffic carriers. They are an entirely new problem that the networks were not designed to handle.

One way to handle the new traffic needs is with traffic management. This is a software change that can be done with less investment and less infrastructure disruption. It is also the source of the fear as the cynicism of the era does not trust those evil corporations to function in the interests of the end consumer. With traffic management, the services can favor their own offerings and partners and squeeze out the competition. The market has shown repeatedly (e.g. the Comcast vs Netflix tussle) that the fear is misplaced but reality often takes a back seat to emotion.

Another way to handle the new traffic needs is to upgrade the infrastructure. The consideration here is that video puts ‘orders of magnitude’ pressure increase on things. That means the upgrade needs to be on that order as well and that means massive capital investment. The traffic providers are indeed upgrading but the demand has stepped up faster than their infrastructure and that creates dissonance between demand and supply.

The change in demand is shown in the first article talking about 25GB and 200GB thresholds. The cell phone services start at a few tenths of a GB for text, mail, and basic browsing needs. The new smart phones can bring the need up to the 3 to 5 GB/month range which is about where most ‘normal’ I’net activity fits. Video is another story as an hour of video needs almost 1 GB of download. A movie every night could mean a demand for 100 GB/month. In that light, the Canadian telecom price tiers make sense. 25 GB will cover traditional usage with plenty of headroom. 200GB will cover those who use the I’net as a replacement for Cable or Satellite TV.

From these considerations, it appears that a lot of the net neutrality rhetoric is about wanting the common folk who use the I’net for email and browsing and an occasional video to subsidize those who use the I’net as a daily video resource and replacement for other video services. As with many top down, socialistic oriented desires, this basic subsidy issue is not confronted honestly and instead you see the fear mongering about evil corporations stealing service or whatnot. As Heinlein made famous, TANSTAAFL – there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch! Those pushing net neutrality want a free lunch anyway even if you have to pay for it for them.

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The reality behind a common myth

There is this idea that the U.S. is fading, especially in the manufacturing sector. China is seen as predominant and overwhelming – just try to find anything of non-Chinese manufacture in WalMart some folks say trying to uphold this view. Despite this evidence, CBS News says the U.S. Factories Still Out-Produce China.

America remains by far the No. 1 manufacturing country. It out-produces No. 2 China by more than 40 percent. U.S. manufacturers cranked out nearly $1.7 trillion in goods in 2009, according to the United Nations.

The story of American factories essentially boils down to this: They’ve managed to make more goods with fewer workers.

The United States has lost nearly 8 million factory jobs since manufacturing employment peaked at 19.6 million in mid-1979. U.S. manufacturers have placed near the top of world rankings in productivity gains over the past three decades.

That higher productivity has meant a leaner manufacturing force that’s capitalized on efficiency.

The U.S. remains No. 1 in global manufacturing, accounting for 18 percent of global manufacturing output in 2008.

And what about the WalMart experience?

What’s changed is that U.S. manufacturers have abandoned products with thin profit margins, like consumer electronics, toys and shoes. They’ve ceded that sector to China, Indonesia and other emerging nations with low labor costs.

The issue has many concepts to study. The perceptions showing a success of the propaganda of the America hating crowd is one. The reasons for U.S. manufacturing efficiency is another. The infrastructure, governmental stability, and cultural impact on manufacturing is another.

The impact of the misperceptions can be seen in ideas for improving economic vitality in the U.S. Many of these involve government funded subsidies and incubators. Subsidies for things like “green” energy development. Incubators to help jump start industries that otherwise could not stand on their own (like businesses that depend upon government subsidies).

California is a prime example. As Hanson has noted, much of the infrastructure such as roads, the power grid, energy supply, and water has deteriorated while rules and regulations aimed at business have proliferated. Even the most basic production, farming, has been strangled.

The U.S. is still pre-eminent despite all these burdens on its abilities. It seems that the first question at hand is whether the pre-eminence is to be maintained or not. Much of the dialogue these days seems to be towards taking the U.S. down a few pegs so that it can join the other second tier nations for some reason. That’s a subject for introspection.

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Regulatory politicism? Trying to understand the horror.

You may have heard about the abortion clinic in Philadephia and Dr. Gosnell who “was a little befuddled at his arraignment on January 20. Indicted for eight murders.” The descriptions of his clinic are those of a house of horror. How did it exist in a city like Philadelphia? J. Bottum reports To Live and Die in Philadelphia, The abortionist’s house of horrors. His theory is that it was regulatory politics that allowed the clinic to remain in operation for more thirty years.

The reason, of course, is what such medical practices involve. Ever since the Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, ending states’ power to outlaw abortion and making it instead an individual right, abortion has distorted American law and snarled American politics. Why should it be any surprise that it has soiled American medicine as well? People like Dr. Gosnell are allowed to exist by the pro-abortion lobbying groups that insist ordinary medical supervision will lead to a curtailing of access to abortion in this country.

As it happens, they’re right. Partly that’s because laws concerning medical licensing genuinely do offer a chance for pro-life state legislatures to hurt the abortion business by burdening its practitioners with extensive paperwork and expensive equipment. The activists at NARAL and Planned Parenthood are not exactly wrong to worry about what they call TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers). And yet, there’s a more serious reason that medical supervision threatens the abortion license in this country. It’s what ordinary medical regulation and supervision would reveal: the fact that the abortion business is the gutter of American medicine.

Targeted Regulation is a political weapon. See, for example, the FCC and net neutrality or the EPA and its carbon pollution. In this case, the problem was preventing such regulation to favor a ‘liberation’ movement. Efforts to avoid politically incorrect regulation bore fruit. For a time. Then reality caught up with the ideology but only after much suffering.

Note that this is about Targeted Regulation and not about the boundary between appropriate and inappropriate governmental interference. There is a valid debate about the degree to which medical practitioners and facilities should be subject to licensing and inspection. This isn’t about that but about certain types of medical efforts that were exempt due to political overtones of their work. Such selected exemptions are also being noted in regards to the health care legislation passed last year. The standard for action by the government becomes more about who you know and who you are rather than what you are actually doing and that is a questionable standard.

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Teachers behavior modification: evolving for survival

A poll of biology teachers indicate that many are cautious about teaching evolution in high school biology courses. IBT reports Teachers Back Away From Evolution In Class.

But the crux of the study is what the authors call the “cautious 60 percent” who neither advocate for the science of evolution nor push creationism, but simply avoid the issue altogether. Teachers may want to avoid controversy, but the problem, Berkman says, is that it undermines science as a mode of thought and means of finding out about the world. Many high school students in the U.S. take no science classes at all, and for 25 percent of high schoolers, biology is the only one.

The proposed solution is missing one of the factors described.

The simplest way to solve this problem is to change the ways people who will become teachers are taught the subject before they ever get into a classroom, Berkman says.

No matter how well the teacher understands the science, parent pressure will modify the teacher’s behavior. Teachers respond to angry parents. The creationists tend to have a zeal that demands satisfaction. If the teacher does not provide that satisfaction, the teacher will suffer. It is much more prudent for the teacher to take on a course of ‘caution’ rather than become a martyr for the cause of science and intellectual integrity.

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Priorities for the budget

One of the common observations is that the public wants government to cut spending but not to cut any programs or services. The RGJ story on Washoe County highlights this conundrum.

In a survey of 600 county residents released this week, residents rated
Child Protective Services as the highest priority for the county. That
was followed by prosecuting criminals and running the jail and courts.
The lowest-rated services were animal control, communications with
citizens and technology.

The problem is that 70% of the budget it tied up in employee, retiree, and health costs. The problem trying to reduce that part of the budget is illustrated by the spokesman for the sheriff’s supervisors association.

Keller said the public is becoming comfortable in “demonizing public
employees because the media is too lazy to go after the banks that
created this nightmare.“We are the ones who are important in keeping civil order,” she said. “We run into bullets, not away.”

The budget runs to about $300M per year for the county. Revenues are down more than 10%. But the children must be saved and we cannot ask for more sacrifice from those dedicated civil servants who “run into bullets” for us.

In this light, one wonders about parents who do not take care of their children and a law  authority that takes a dim view of citizen self defense.

The “four prong strategy” approved by the county commissioners only provides lip service to outsourcing and reductions in services. The concern is that expenses will continue to grow faster than income. The only way that is going to be solved is by reducing the scope of government, or at least its growth. That gets back to the public and the poll presented does not bode well for future fiscal sanity.

The budget problem faced by the politicians goes very much beyond anything in their purview. Will the people step up?

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Egypt: public command, control, and communications

The recent Tunisian episode may be going viral – at least that is the fear (or hope) of those who study such issues. Egypt is a point towards this and that Egyptian authorities were among those who tried to take precautions.

Over the past 48 hours, the Egyptian government escalated from censoring
websites, to blocking mobile service, and as of last night, took the
unprecedented step of seemingly disconnecting Egypt from the global
Internet. The events of today – Friday – are critical to the future of
the Egyptian regime and the will of the Egyptian people.

democracyworks asks What happens when eighty million Egyptians disappear? The story is about the CCC, command, control, and communications infrastructure of the civil protests. The authorities have attempted to disrupt these capabilities by shutting down mobile phone and I’net service in the country. That only means other techniques will be employed – such as Amateur Radio.

The cell phone has become ubiquitous in many areas that have never had telecommunications capabilities. I’net access soon follows. The technologies have been important in the war on terror but this appears to be the first time they have been fundamental to the CCC of nationwide social protest.

The shutdown is also interesting in light of the discussion about providing the U.S. President with an I’net ‘kill’ switch. The example illustrates both how the fear was misdirected and how the phenomena can be expressed in other ways.

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And the innocent get caught in the maelstrom

It seems Glen Beck must be exposing some raw nerves. His expose of George Soros stimulated a reaction in the Jewish Community. The Lid calls it a Loshen Hora.

I hope that the 400 rabbis who have committed this Loshen Hora, caused all of this shame and have desecrated the name of god Chillul Hashem
(desecration of God’s name) realize the error of their ways, not that their offense could ever be totally rectified.

What’s the deal? It is like Beck exposing a well regarded leftist professor’s call for violent revolution being called provoking violence – just for exposing what the professor actually said. In this case it is also accusing Beck without substance to support the accusation. It appears that 400 Rabbis shamed themselves because they were coerced to condemn Beck without conducting even minor due diligence. The Lid expects better from leaders in his religious cohort and describes why he thinks they shamed themselves.

As an old Chasidic tale teaches: A man once went around spreading lies about the rabbi. Eventually he began to feel remorse for the wrong he had done. He went to the rabbi and begged his forgiveness, saying he would do anything to make amends. The rabbi said, “Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds.” The man followed the request gladly. When he told the rabbi that he had done the task, the rabbi said, “Now, go try and gather the feathers.” The man said, “But Rabbi I cannot gather the feathers they are all scatter to the winds.” The Rabbi replied, “Exactly! You cannot take back the damage your words have done, the same way you cannot than recollect
the feathers.”

We have many who need to be out gathering feathers, it seems.

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It is only by a third: budget detail

After the SOTU speech and Paul Rand’s response, the Fox All Stars complained that the Republicans offered no solid ideas to combat the budget problem. That complaint has a long history but was rather puzzling in this case. The All Stars seem to have become stuck inside the beltway of the past. David Freddoso provides A detailed look at the Rand Paul spending bill at the Washington Examiner. Rand Paul has been selected as the Chair of the Budget Committee in the House. His ideas refute the Fox panel’s assertions sufficiently to make one wonder about that panel.

Want to save $500 billion this year? Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has a way to do it.

Is it realistic? Maybe not every part of it, but have a look below and judge for yourself.

Most of what is proposed is to return to 2008 spending levels. “remember that a 30 percent cut is less than it seems when an agency’s budget been increasing by 40 percent over the last few years.”

The suggestions include cutting the Government Printing Office – bills can now be distributed via the I’net rather than having to print them on paper. NOAA gets nearly a billion cut so maybe it’s climate research efforts would get some appropriate examination. Energy and Education departments would be minimized and Energy subsumed into Defense. Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of Justice Programs would be among those abolished.

VA services would be centralized and left alone. Other programs untouched would include things like OSHA, MSHA, the Employment and Training Administration, and the SSA.

Another common meme that the mainstream media pundits use to limit their views is the idea that the public just won’t go for reductions such as the Rand bill proposes. They say that both sides demagogue any efforts equally and the public buys into the assertions made. They seem to forget that it is a responsibility of the media to help get the story straight and to take apart the fallacies in the demagoguery rather than to promote them. One only has to look at the previous administration’s efforts to relieve the Social Security problem to see how this propaganda machine worked.

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Some of the debate this morning

There was an investigation that started after the 2006 elections and resulting in a report just released. Scott Bloch feels he is being unjustly lambasted and defends the effort in Some Bushies had it coming. The title is a pretty good indicator but the real story is that of a bureaucrat’s mindset. He starts off with the founders and governmental accountability for credibility via authority.

For the Founders, the guiding star of our structure of government was checks and balances on power. … We knew that it would take thousands of hours and involve hundreds of interviews and would likely go well beyond the end of my five-year term. That is why I obtained a special appropriation from Congress in early 2008 to fund this investigation. … It gave me no pleasure … But as a watchdog … there were voices of praise and blame, even from within our agency. The mob likes to ascribe all sorts of motives that are not there. I did not listen to those voices. … I think this report is important for what it shows about the willingness of our government to check itself … We would do well to remember the public servants throughout our government who are trying to overcome their own tendency toward partisanship, to bring about better government with integrity and to provide an example of what is possible even when mobs will blame everybody or overpraise in an effort to satisfy their own factions.

That meme about the mob and ‘vicious Republican attacks’ is an approach quite similar to what Ryan Maue reported about Trenberth’s speech at the AMS meeting regarding climate change.

Trenberth described the ClimateGate incident as an “illegal email hacking” that spawned viral attacks on scientists. … The term “ClimateGate” should have been replaced by “swiftboating”. … It was just a cherry-picked email anyways. … Deniers: in the AMS preprint, which Trenberth described as garnering plenty of “nasty email responses” the term is heavily used.

And, from there, we can take up on the “Denier” idea and head over to the Jewish Press on blood libel. Caroling Glick takes on the aim of blood libels and why that term hit a nerve.

Palin’s characterization of the Left’s appalling assault on her and her fellow conservatives as a “blood libel” was entirely accurate. Moreover, as her previous use of the term “death panels” in the healthcare debate brought clarity to an issue the Left sought to obscure, so her use of the term “blood libel” exposed the nature of the Left’s behavior and highlighted its intentions. … By criminalizing the entire community based on false allegations regarding a never-committed crime, anti-Semites made it impossible for Jews to go on about our lives. If we sought to deny the charges, we gave them credibility. If we ignored the charges, our silence was interpreted as an admission of guilt. And so no matter what we did, the blood libel firmly attached the stench of murder to a completely innocent Jewish community.

All three of these episodes involve an ideological war. The first is an attempt to criminalize political opponents. The second is to rationalize top down, socialistic, government via environmental FUD mongering. The third is to castigate political opponents as instigating anti-social behavior. There are questions reasonable people should raise about all three. Have we created regulations and laws to the point that, with sufficient investigation, anyone can be found guilty of something? Are we paying billions of dollars for research that is not based on sound and established empirical principles in order to generate fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) to drive ideologically driven policy? Do we seek civility from those who accuse or those who are accused?

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More ‘ignore it and hope the complaints go away’

The FOIA type information that got out of the CRU by hook or crook (depending upon your POV) still resonates. There have been panels to look at things and it was noted that these panels’ reports seemed to be a whitewash. Many questions were ignored. The panel composition was blatantly biased. Like Dr. Blake (down a couple of entries), there are some folks who just won’t sit down and let the dishonesty go uncontested.

Watts describes it as Heated Climate Change Politics in the UK. There are some quotes and links to follow to find out more.

The release of the e-mails from CRU at the University of East Anglia and the accusations that followed demanded independent and objective scrutiny by independent panels. This has not happened. No reputable scientist who was critical of CRU’s work was on the panel, and prominent and distinguished critics were not interviewed. … “There are proposals to increase worldwide taxation by up to a trillion dollars on the basis of climate science predictions. This is an area where strong and opposing views are held. The release of the e-mails from CRU at the University of East Anglia and the accusations that followed demanded independent and objective scrutiny by independent panels. This has not happened.

Note the cite to the use of the polar bear floating down the Thames (with pic) as well. It seems that the polar bear has become a symbol for climate alarmism. It is a dishonest symbol and one that distracts but it is a cute and cuddly symbol that seems to resonate for those who do not care to inspect their thoughts.

Steve McIntyre gets into a bit more analysis of the effort in Sci Tech Committee Again.

My take is that the Committee was annoyed with the University of East Anglia, being quite critical of the inquiries in the running text, but have decided that there are other more pressing priorities and that it’s time to “move on”. In some cases, they seem to have gritted their teeth and accepted untrue statements at face value. Graham Stringer, by far the most knowledgeable member of the Committee on matters UEA, moved a critical amendment to the conclusions that is an honest appraisal of the situation.

Read his post to see why he comes to this conclusion.

The issues raised do not seem to be going away as they have in the past. Going through the motions but avoiding the tough questions is not burying those questions anymore. Instead, it only seems to raise more questions and those questions are getting closer to home as well. A “stiff upper lip” will only take things so far, it seems.

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All breathless: found one!

The guardian.co.uk features its story Climate sceptic ‘misled Congress over funding from oil industry’ to support the thesis that those contesting the established global warming political environment are in the grip of ‘big oil.’

A leading climate sceptic patronised by the oil billionaire Koch brothers faced a potential investigation today on charges that he misled Congress on the extent of his funding from the oil industry.

Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, a thinktank founded by Charles and David Koch to promote their libertarian, anti-government views, appeared before the house energy and commerce committee in February 2009.

One of the first things this brings to mind is “Patrick who?” If you are up on the climate research brouhaha, you will know about people like Watts, Pielke, Montford, and Spencer as raising questions. Michaels is not on that list.

Besides the ambiguities regarding funding and the tortuous linkages necessary to support the thesis that are featured in the ‘news’ story and the fact that its numbers don’t quite mesh with its presuppositions, there is the question about why Michaels “was the only one in the line-up of witnesses to cast doubt on global warming, testifying that mainstream science had exaggerated the threat posed by climate change.” Why did the committee choose to only hear from one person who was not one of the primary sources of the criticism of climate research?

It seems to fit with Alinsky’s rules (e.g. Alinsky’s rules with examples) about picking a target and then doing absolutely anything necessary to destroy it. An expression of intellectual integrity it is not.

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Standing up to ‘the man’ – Penelope Blake

It appears the U.S. denigrating ethos of academic historians now has a whistle blower. Dr. Blake took umbrage at the political stink of the conference on the Pacific War held at the East-West Center in Hawaii in August 2010 and decided something should be done. Scott posts the latest on this in A letter to Jim Leach.

We have followed the story of Professor Penelope Blake and the program on the Pacific theater in World War II in a series of posts beginning with “Investigate this” (the letter to Rep. Manzullo that is referred to below is in that post). The program in issue was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, of which Jim Leach is the chairman. Yesterday Professor Blake wrote Leach …

What shows here is a rather typical tactic when the dishonest are caught out: they try to ignore it, pretend that all is OK, and deny any problem exists. The logical fallacies include the ‘vox populi’ as in:

In November 2010, I received a letter from you which essentially dismissed my report by claiming that this is a freedom of speech issue and observing that most of the other participants responded favorably to the conference. As I stated at the time, neither point addresses the real issue at hand: whether the NEH should be permitted to support, with American tax dollars, a biased, agenda-based conference, no matter how well-received the conference may be. To date, you have yet to acknowledge publicly that what occurred at the East-West Center conference was an indisputable violation of the NEH funding guidelines, nor have you addressed the process within the NEH which made this violation possible.

That, of course, is the problem. As with the recent brouhaha about violence inspiring rhetoric, a reasoned and honest approach to the debate has little impact with the primary perpetrators. What has to happen is elsewhere. By gathering together those who do value a reasoned and honest approach, sufficient mass can be accumulated to create something that cannot be ignored or set aside. This is the ‘Tea Party’ approach. It requires patience and fortitude but folks like Dr. Blake standing up against the deceit and dishonesty are gaining traction. In that there is hope.

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Focus: economic benefactors

That ‘American Greed’ and what it does for us is Dr. Sowell’s topic reminding us of New Heroes vs Old. He reminds us of what folks like Rockefeller and Ford did for us and then notes:

We still have people revolutionizing our lives. Just think of the
computer and the pharmaceutical drugs that have not only lengthened our
lives but made them more healthful, so that being 80 years old today is
like being 60 years old in times past.

But today we seldom even know the names of those who have made
these monumental contributions to human well-being. All we know is that
some people have gotten “rich” and that this is to be regarded as some
sort of grievance.

Many of the people we honor today are people who are skilled in
the rhetoric of grievances and promises of new “rights” at someone
else’s expense. But is that what is going to make a better America?

Where is the focus? When some does something that really helps us out but they get rich doing it, that seems to be a point for contempt, not admiration (any more).

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Plato’s Cave

It is about people held slave in a cave under the spell of witches who break free and how they react.

Only when a prisoner is released from his bonds does he see the sleight of hand — the puppeteers and all their paraphernalia.  As he climbs out of the cave into the bright sunlight he is temporarily blinded, his eyes having for so long been accustomed to the dark.   The ex-prisoner is understandably frightened and bewildered by this new world.  And he must learn to see what is around him without the puppeteers’ filtering.  But it is only then, after this uncomfortable journey into the bright and unfamiliar world around him, that the prisoner finally can think and understand, that he can appreciate what is real and true from that which is artificial and contrived.

Clarice Feldman says this Allegory of the Cave of the Mama Grizzly is behind the Palin Derangement.

I think others at first will hate Palin for taking them into the blinding light, but that with time and more media stunts like last week’s, they and the Times and USA readers, the present consumers of the medias’ distortions, will get some glimpses of life outside the cave and come to realize the distinction between truth and reality on one hand and projected lies and make-believe on the other.

There is a comparison and contrast here as well. There are those who are struggling to deal with reality such as Feldman describes and then there are those trying to understand why those folks are having such a hard time, such as Feldman and Taranto. It is between those who are in denial when set free in the sunshine of the real world and those who seek out ways to understand and accommodate and incorporate what they see into their understanding of the world.

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Grasping at straws

Since 2010 has wound up, you can see a lot of stories about how 2010 was the warmest on record or about how Greenland’s Melting Season Lasted 50 Days Longer than Average in 2010. This last is considered ‘important’ for several reasons. The latest concerns albedo.

One of the most important things the researchers observed from the study was that the relationship between temperature and melt was not linear — it can be exponential. As snow melts, it reveals older less reflective snow and eventually even less reflective bare ice, both of which absorb more heat and accelerate melting and ultimately extend the melt season.

PhysOrg describes one of the more established Greenland ice sheet concerns in New melt record for Greenland ice sheet (w/ Video).

New research shows that 2010 set new records for the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, expected to be a major contributor to projected sea level rises in coming decades.

It is the context and what is left out that indicate that such stories are an effort akin to grasping at straws. The context includes things like recent reports that show that the error in measuring temperature dwarfs any measured global warming over the last century, the sea level has not risen over the last century in a manner to support the drowning cities alarmism, that the ENSO seems to have more to do with the ’2010 warmest’ than anything else, and that there has been a steady rise in atmospheric CO2 but temperatures have been fairly flat for the last decade or so.

The straw man presentation about “deniers” is a part of this. It is a straw man because there is no reputable reasoning stance that denies climate change or even a trend of warming for the last century or so in global temperatures. Global warming is not the issue creating dissonance. What is at issue is the alarmist prognostications about global disaster, such as cities drowning due to Greenland ice sheet melting, when there is nothing evident to support such claims. Another issue is mankind’s culpability – just how important is human activity in climate change? A third major issue involves determining just how much effort and money should be shifted away from poverty and disease amelioration towards activities that are supposed to mitigate any impact mankind might have on climate.

When perspective and context is missing, the conclusions should be suspect and motivations questioned.

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nature of the debate: net neutrality

ars technica shows its stuff in a report on Verizon’s suing the FCC – this time it is the use of ridicule (cover illustration) and dripping sarcasm (“The company loves the open Internet, it says, just so long as no one can, well, enforce that openness.”) and guilt by association (“The lead attorney on the case is Helgi Walker of major DC tech law firm
Wiley Rein”)

Nate makes it very clear that his bias is for net neutrality and that his support for it is not on rational grounds. Ridicule and logical fallacies rather than civil discussion are primary indications that intellectual integrity is taking a back seat.

What is interesting is that some of the more vocal technical types have this socialistic bent towards top down control of the I’net and believe that the I’net has been corrupted by big evil corporations ripping off the little guy. You’d think people with a technological bent would be a bit more open for reason and reality and biased towards bottom up controls.

Update: Here’s a comparison and contrast in the nature of the debate: Neil Stevens writes Verizon sues FCC over Net Neutrality

and another – see TechCrunch as another example of the irrational technologist.

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The nature of the debate

The vote to repeal last year’s health care act provides an example to examine the nature of the debate. The issue, as described in the WSJ on The Repeal Vote:

Democrats are deriding last night’s House vote to repeal ObamaCare as “symbolic,” and it was, but that is not the same as meaningless. The stunning political reality is that a new entitlement that was supposed to be a landmark of liberal governance has been repudiated by a majority of one chamber of Congress only 10 months after it passed. This sort of thing never happens.

And that does not include the fact that more than half of the states are involved in lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the bill. What is the defense?

One is the equating of the repeal efforts to Nazi propaganda efforts with copious accusations of unspecified and vague “lies” – which has some noting the contrast to recent dialogue about the need for civility. Some media outlets are using the challenge to the Senate leader for an up or down vote on the issue as “blaming” Senator Reid. John Nichols highlights some other aspects in The Nation: Time For A New Debate On Health Care. That one starts out with “The American people are not fools” which is indicative of a defensive point of view (seeking validation of an argument by consensus rather than quality, even it that consensus has to be manufactured – see the climate consensus for another example) so caution is needed in reading Nichols to separate conclusion and opinion from fact and reality. For instance:

Republicans in the House used their new majority to push for a return to the bad old days when insurance companies executives were deemed to have an absolute right to their multimillion-dollar bonuses but children and people with pre-existing conditions were deemed to have a right only to beg for charity.

If the House debate on repeal of healthcare served a purpose, it was to illustrate the deep divide between those who believe the highest priority is to preserve insurance-industry profits and those who worry about sick kids.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) summed the whole charade up with her usual precision, when she invited House Republicans to consider their responsibility to represent not just corporations but the common good.

That illustrates how media and politics often become one in an actual, deceitful, propaganda effort. The falsehood here is the deeply ideological one fundamental to socialism where the enemy is those evil corporations – private business – and the children will suffer because those who support the evil corporations do not care. Note the modifiers and extremes (reduce to absurd) – “bad old days,” “absolute right,” “charade,” and “usual precision.”

This Nichols story is an NPR heritage and explains why NPR is under scrutiny as well but the real issue is the nature of the debate that is illustrated here. One the one side there is the public voice being shown in original opposition to the bill, in the national elections, and, now, in a vote of the House of Representatives and in state lawfare. On the other we have the allegations of lies, accusations about collusion with big evil corporations, accusations of not caring about the children, the sick, or the elderly, and constructed validity in selected polling and wishful thinking about the people’s real views.

i.e. there is a difference. One side is working the issues and the other side is working its opponents. That is worth some consideration.

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Phalse Physics

One clue that increased skepticism is needed is when people argue that the physics is definitive. Like Redmond’s idea that there is only one mechanism for climate change, these sorts of viewpoints are gross oversimplifications of complex systems. Diet and obesity is another such topic.

‘Science Based Medicine’ has an example of insistence that energy in must be balanced by energy expended in exercise and that is all that is needed to understand obesity. Gary Taubes found otherwise in doing the research for his book but that research doesn’t count. Physics must be satisfied and that can only be by one mechanism.

The laws of physics are unavoidable. His
demonization of the calories-in/calories-out principle strikes me as a
bit of a straw man argument. He says exercising and reducing total
calorie intake don’t work; moreover, he says they can’t work. Most of us
would argue that they can and do; the problem is not with the
principle, but with its implementation. Simple physics requires that to
lose weight, we must burn more calories than we ingest: that is
indisputable.

The question here is the one Taubes faced. Do you believe the research or do you believe simplifications that have become axiomatic myths? The issue for a true scientist is not to select one or the other but rather to find out how these competing ideas can coexist. Taubes did that. Hariet Hall did not.

The fact is that the human metabolism is not a simple energy thing. Food going in is used in many ways to support many processes. It is a complex system. Treating it as trivial, as Hall does, may be a first approximation but it is not the whole story. What Taubes did was to gain some perspective about how this first approximation fit into the whole picture. In doing so, he accepted the fact that he was looking at a complex system with many more variables that interact with each other. The laws of thermodynamics are not violated. Food does more than just provide energy for immediate utilization.

The sad part of this is that those with the simplistic ‘phalse physics’ views are not open to true science where there is adequate allowance for what is not known and how measure is taken. They know the ‘truth’ and that is it as far as they are concerned – or so it seems from essays such as Hall’s.

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On matters of civility, honesty, and the media

There are some taking note about how major media has a Palin Problem. First, they blamed her for the Arizona tragedy. Then, when she provided a rebuttal, they lambasted her for inserting herself into the dialog. That is a classic “can’t win” scenario like the “when did you stop beating your wife” question.

US News follows up on this wishful anti-Palin stance. Consider this morning’s commentary: Why Sarah Palin Is Wrong About Michelle Obama’s Weight Gain Fight; Sarah Palin’s Poll Numbers Hit New Low; Arizona Shooting Bungle Sinks Sarah Palin’s 2012 Presidential Bid; Milligan: Sarah Palin’s Stunning Narcisissm… all in one day!

Integrity was the first victim here. Palin offered a snide comment about government trying to dictate what one could eat when fixing s’mores for children at a campout – that has turned into an anti First Lady policy statement. The Poll Numbers indicates, if anything, a crowing about the success of a rather vicious smear campaign. The last is the paradigm problem mentioned earlier: if you listen to Palin, a run for president is not what she puts first on her priorities. Note also the use of the modifier “stunning” as it is rather typical of this ilk along with such things as “vitriolic” and “hate filled” – all of which tend to be rather hard for an objective observer to see.

The “Presidential Bid” – anticipated, fantasized, or whatever, appears to be the major irritant for these folks. They can’t seem to see anything else and they have no qualms about anything that must be done to prevent it. That is where civility has lost and will continue to loose.

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Commentary worth considering

Peter Wehner says The Left Is Still Unwilling to Work Toward Balance and Moderation – and why he thinks so with examples.

In the wake of the Tucson massacre, most of us hoped that we would have moved passed this extreme, grotesque politicization of the event. We had hoped that President Obama’s wonderful speech would be understood by the left that it was to cease and desist, and work to regain its balance after nearly a week of slander. But apparently, some on the left are so consumed by politics that it tints every lens they look through; it impacts every act in life; and it colors every living, breathing thought they have. And so the forthcoming health-care debate is now being framed in the context of the Tucson massacre (the not-so-subtle argument is that health care contributed to the “climate of hate” that the left still wants to insist contributed to the violence on that awful day).

The fact that liberals are acting disgracefully in the process seems not to bother them at all. It should.

Rick Richman On the Persistence of Palin and the Possibility of Pence takes up the Palin Paradigm Problem.

She may nonetheless conclude that her candidacy would be a distraction from the issues she champions, and that another candidate might be better positioned to present them. If so, she might open up the Pence Possibility — a candidacy by someone whose Hillsdale College speech last September was remarkable in my view and came considerably closer to Lincoln than another recent one.

John Sexton takes on Three Exculpatory Facts the MSM Continues to Overlook in the Arizona Shootings.

It’s pointless to blame partisans like Kos and Krugman for being partisans, but the mainstream media–the networks and major dailies–are responsible for allowing this lie to propagate unchecked. It was their job to do more than serve as a conduit for left-wing agitprop and in this instance they failed.

With the omission of the Democratic maps, minimizing of the timeline, and scant attention to Loughner’s actual ideology the MSM has helped the cause of left-wing ideologues. Whether this was intentional is open to debate, but the fact that a sizable cross-section of America now believes Saturday’s shootings can be partly (if not largely) laid at the feat of Sarah Palin and the right is hard evidence of their collective failure.

Tim Ball gets into the science abuse in Queensland Flooding Exploited – But Part of Normal Pattern. These floods provide an example of where misguided policy decisions based on ideology rather than empiricism has cost lives. After similar floods back in 1974, plans were made to build weirs and other flood control devices. Only one such device was built and fears of drought, based on climate alarmism, made it ineffective. Dr. Ball provides the background on the oceanography and meteorology behind the flooding and why the policies were misguided.

Just two years ago the headlines were bewailing the severe drought in Queensland. Environmentalists exploited the situation with threatening headlines like, “Queensland’s Drought-Parched to drink Purified Sewage.” The stupidity of this is many people drink purified sewage water. … Proponents of human caused global warming didn’t miss the opportunity. They are environmental and scientific practitioners of Rahm Emmanuel’s dictum, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

Of course, their advantage is the practice of portraying natural events as unnatural and catastrophic. It means they never run out of crises.

The swing from drought to flood is part of the natural order in Queensland. They’re driven by reversing ocean currents that alternately create El Nino then La Nina patterns. They’re Spanish names because they first recorded them. Pacific People knew them and the associated weather patterns. Figure 1 shows the general conditions. When Sir Francis Drake sailed into the Pacific in 1579, he gathered information about the currents and took Morera, a Spanish navigator, with him. After sailing ships disappeared, concern and knowledge of the winds and currents were essentially forgotten.

January 2011 sets the year off to quite a start. There are so many issues that have bubbled up to the surface that it will likely take a while before they fade,

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